Research on simplified antibiotic regimens for outpatient treatment of ‘Possible Serious Bacterial Infection’ (PSBI) and the subsequent World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines provide an opportunity to increase treatment coverage. This multi-country implementation research initiative aimed to learn how to implement the WHO guideline in diverse contexts. These experiences have been individually published; this overview paper provides a summary of results and lessons learned across sites.
A common mixed qualitative and quantitative methods protocol for implementation research was used in eleven sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Equateur province), Ethiopia (Tigray and Oromia regions), India (Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh states), Malawi (Central Region), Nigeria (Kaduna and Oyo states), and Pakistan (Sindh province). Key steps in implementation research were: i) policy dialogue with the national government and key stakeholders, ii) the establishment of a ‘Technical Support Unit’ with the research team and district level managers, and iii) development of an implementation strategy and its refinement using an iterative process of implementation, programme learning and evaluation.
All sites successfully developed and evaluated an implementation strategy to increase coverage of PSBI treatment. During the study period, a total of 6677 young infants from the study catchment area were identified and treated at health facilities in the study area as inpatients or outpatients among 88179 live births identified. The estimated coverage of PSBI treatment was 75.7% (95% CI 74.8% to 78.6%), assuming a 10% incidence of PSBI among all live births. The treatment coverage was variable, ranging from 53.3% in Lucknow, India to 97.3% in Ibadan, Nigeria. The coverage of inpatient treatment ranged from 1.9% in Zaria, Nigeria, to 33.9% in Tigray, Ethiopia. The outpatient treatment coverage ranged from 30.6% in Pune, India, to 93.6% in Zaria, Nigeria. Overall, the case fatality rate (CFR) was 14.6% (95% CI 11.5% to 18.2%) for 0-59-day old infants with critical illness, 1.9% (95% CI 1.5% to 2.4%) for 0-59-day old infants with clinical severe infection and 0.1% for fast breathing in 7–59 days old. Among infants treated as outpatients, CFR was 13.7% (95% CI 8.7% to 20.2%) for 0-59-day old infants with critical illness, 0.9% (95% CI 0.6% to 1.2%) for 0-59-day old infants with clinical severe infection, and 0.1% for infants 7–59 days old with fast breathing.